Saturday, October 3, 2015

My DIY Calligraphy Journey

I am pretty cheap about somethings. (snicker, snicker) Especially on things I think you can get for free, like learning a new skill for example. I am pretty self-confident (again, snicker, snicker - well, at least I know myself well, right?) and I honestly believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it.

And learning calligraphy falls into this category for me. 

There are quite a lot of calligraphy courses offered nowadays, some by famous calligraphers (and some classes offered by unknowns affiliated by the stores selling calligraphy supplies - uhmmm, is that dubious or what?). A course is roughly around Php2,000 with materials and snacks included, so I told myself, I should just teach myself calligraphy and save my Php2,000. Well, let me tell you how that worked out.

Starting out, you need to familiarize yourself with the tools you need.

There are two different types of calligraphy pens.
1. Ink Catridge based - Sheaffer has a line. You can buy it in a set, it's sold in National Bookstore. Just put in an ink catridge, and start writing. Sort of like a fountain pen, but you need to get used to the different nib tips.
2. Nib + Holder - there is a whole world of  nibs and holders out there. You buy them together or separately, buy some calligraphy ink, dip and write. The trick is to find the combination you're comfortable with enough to practice, practice, practice.

Then just download worksheets online, watch some videos for beginners, then you're set to go. You'll really learn more by trying and doing it.

I started out by raiding my brother's pen collection. He has loved pens (of all kinds) since he was a toddler, so he had a Sheaffer Calligraphy set and a Speedball (holder and nib) Calligraphy set that he never used.

So my running total so far, tools and work sheets - FREE.

The trick to doing calligraphy is figuring out the correct angle for the nib for the ink to flow freely, and the correct pressure to use to be able to produce thin up-strokes and thin down-strokes. You also need to practice on thick or smooth paper, to stop the ink from bleeding.

For a while, I parked this project as I got busy with work and travelling, then on a trip to Hong Kong, I discovered the calligraphy section, so I started buying a universal nib holder, some Brause nibs, and some J. Herbin calligraphy ink. (Aha!!! This is where my calligraphy tools addiction started!) 

Since I was practicing more for penmanship, I started buying
"learn cursive writing" practice books for Sofia (she's that age) and for myself. 

The real pressure came when I randomly offered my soon-to-be-married Best Friend to address all her wedding invitations by calligraphy and she calmly accepted! I swear I was practicing on my cursive writing book everyday! Hahahaha.
I discovered some useful tricks though. Find a subtle pattern to write on,
which addresses wobbly letters. Using Iridescent ink also helps, less bleeding.
Dr. Ph Martin's is a good brand, available in Scribe (Philippines).

After nailing all the wedding invites, at good enough quality I may add, I seem to have gained more confidence. I now love writing all my gift cards using calligraphy.
I even ventured into labeling jars for myself and for friends.
I started buying more calligraphy tools. This is my haul from Istanbul.
This is my haul from Taipei. Well, the calligraphy stuff is part of it.
Yes, I have calligraphy themed washi tape, and I can calligraphy on washi too!
Here, only the Iridescent ink works, and you need to dry it well.
I was so thrilled when a friend asked me to do calligraphy of his name
because he saw the work I posted.

I have even started practicing calligraphy with different mediums.
Brush pen calligraphy is also fun. In a way, it's easier than conventional
calligraphy because the ink flow is more predictable, but you have to have
good control over your hand pressure.
Then over the weekend I started practicing Watercolor Brush Calligraphy too.
This was much harder, you need to have way more control over the brush
because the bristles are less behaved than a brush pen.
But happy I got my Prang watercolor set for free from my sister this time!

Some of the blogs that have been really helpful for self-learning calligraphy are:
1. The Postman's Knock - great beginner tips for modern calligraphy, free worksheets available for download too. 
2. Julie Blanner - but she writes about a lot of things under the sun, so just follow the link to Calligraphy.
3. Locally, I follow The Fozzy Book. She doesn't do much beginner's tips and tutorials, but her work is so beautiful, it serves as an inspiration. She also posts her daily drills, so if you want to be as good as her just practice, practice, practice.  IG: @thefozzybook

This is my collection of calligraphy tools as of end- September.

So, did I really save money by teaching myself calligraphy? Hahaha. You be the judge. Good thing, it's not about what you've spent, but what you've learned.

I may have spent more on calligraphy tools than what I would have in a workshop, but then, I am pretty sure that even if I paid for and attended a workshop, I wouldn't be able to stop myself from buying more tools anyway. In fact, I've already bought a bigger calligraphy box. I'm just waiting to buy more stuff before I upgrade. I've started to call it my Arts and Crap Kit too! just saying.

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